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The 12 best healthy recipes of 2018 from healthy food blogger Erin Clarke

Time for the second half of our annual reflection on a year of deliciousness! Yesterday, I shared YOUR Favorite Recipes of 2018. Today, I’m sharing mine!

I know you have thousands of recipes to choose from on any given day. The fact that you choose to make one of mine means the world to me. It’s an honor, and I take the time and resources you invest in making my recipes very seriously. I am excited about and stand behind every recipe I post here, and I want you to be excited about them too.

Sometimes, however, I’m not only excited about a recipe—I’m giddy. YES, I think. This is the recipe that will make people dance in their kitchens, overtake Pinterest, and generally break the internet. I hit “publish” and…


The recipe, for one unknown reason or another, never takes off and sits quietly in my recipe archives. I publish a new one, and we move on. It’s a part of food blogging life that I’ve learned to take in stride over the years.

But, but, but! These recipes are still SO GOOD. I like to think of this list as their second chance to shine. I also enjoy the moment of reminiscing about who I made them for and how much we enjoyed eating them together.

Is there a promising recipe on this list that you might have missed? Looking for some fresh inspiration for the new year? Start here!

In no particular order, here are my personal picks from 2018.

A large pot filled with butternut squash, gnocchi, and cheese

Italian Sausage Butternut Squash Gnocchi. This gem cooks in a single skillet, tastes of pure cold-weather comfort, and lights up every face at the table. No matter your level of experience in the kitchen, this recipe will make you feel like a professional chef. It really is that good.

Mind-blowing Vegan Queso Dip. BEST EVER. I can’t believe this is healthy! Made with roasted cauliflower, cashews, and nutritional yeast, you’ll never believe this creamy queso blanco recipe doesn’t have cheese!

Vegan Queso. Yes, you read that correctly. This indulgent, creamy, and cheesy-tasting dip is made with (wait for it) roasted cauliflower and cashews. My friends were eating it with a spoon, and you will be too!

The BEST Paleo Chili, made quick and easy in the Instant Pot! With ground beef or turkey, sweet potato, no beans, and fresh veggies, this healthy chili recipe is Whole 30 and Paleo-compliant, low carb, and absolutely delicious! If you do not have an Instapot, recipe includes crockpot and stovetop method.

Paleo Chili. I am going to be honest: when I put an entire head of cauliflower and can of pumpkin in here, I didn’t think it was going to work. Turns out it is AMAZING. Whether or not you are following a Paleo diet, this chili is worth making. It’s loaded with veggies and lean protein and makes tasty leftovers too.

How to make Bostock pastry: Brioche soaked in syrup and topped with lemon almond cream, sliced almonds, and baked, brioche bostock tastes like the absolute best French breakfast toast you’ve ever eaten!

Bostock with Lemon and Almonds. Like an almond croissant and slice of French toast had a baby, but even more delicious and 1,000% easier to make. This tastes even better the second day, so it’s perfect if you have guests coming into town and want to prep breakfast in advance.

Strawberry avocado chicken on a white plate

Strawberry Chicken with Avocado Salsa. A triumph of vibrant, healthy, fresh flavor. Every bite is better than the one before it.

Healthy Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken. BEST RECIPE! A lighter version of classic vodka sauce made with tomatoes and almond

Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken. Lightened-up comfort food at its finest. The sauce tastes like a classic vodka sauce made with heavy cream, but it’s actually thickened with ground almonds. One of Ben’s favorites!

The BEST EVER Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos! Easy, juicy pressure cooker Mexican chicken that's healthy and full of flavor. Use it for tacos, burritos, taco bowls, or mix with black beans and rice. #pressurecooker #instantpot #shreddedchicken #healthy

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos. You need a go-to, killer recipe for juicy, super-flavored Mexican shredded chicken and this one is TOPS. In addition to tacos, you can use the chicken for enchiladas, quesadillas, and even salads.

Healthy Pumpkin Banana Bread! Moist and tender with the perfect amount of spices. Easy one bowl recipe that’s delicious with chocolate chips, nuts, or any of your favorite mix-ins.

Pumpkin Banana Bread. I have made dozens and dozens of loaves of both pumpkin bread and banana bread. The combo of the two turned out to be my best yet! Supremely moist, spectacularly flavored, and surprisingly healthy, this one doesn’t disappoint.

Easy Vegan Enchiladas with tofu, spinach, and black bean filling, topped with a rich and flavorful red enchilada sauce and avocado. This recipe is THE BEST! Healthy, packed with protein, entirely plant based, dairy free (you won’t miss the cheese!), and gluten free. Casserole is freezer friendly and can be made in advance.

Vegan Enchiladas. The filling’s secret ingredient sounds a bit odd at first but tastes dynamite. Bonus points for making your own homemade red enchilada sauce!

Baked Italian Chicken with Vegetables. Flavor-packed chicken breasts with tomatoes, zucchini, and any other fresh vegetables you love. Everything cooks on ONE PAN in the oven for an easy, healthy dinner! Great for meal prep and the the balsamic Italian chicken marinade is to die for.

Sheet Pan Italian Chicken and Vegetables. Bright balsamic and garlic make this anything but ho-hum, and the entire meal cooks on a single pan. Dinner, done.

Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. Creamy, cheesy, and absolutely delicious! One of the best comfort foods for weeknight dinner, Thanksgiving sides, or holiday recipes.

Brussels Sprouts Mac ’n Cheese with Bacon. Ben’s other favorite. I’d say this makes a great side (because it does), but we devoured the entire shebang for dinner!

OK, I know we are at 11, buuuuuut I couldn’t leave you without a little dessert, so here’s a bonus recipe!

Healthy Carrot Cookies with Orange Icing. These soft and chewy cookies are FLOURLESS, vegan, gluten free, and naturally sweetened! Super easy recipe with oatmeal, cinnamon, and any of your other favorite carrot cake mix-ins. Simple, kid friendly and good enough to eat for breakfast!

Carrot Cookies. Nothing makes me happy like treats that nourish my heart and my body too. These yummy cookies taste like carrot cake but are wholesome enough to be breakfast-acceptable should you feel as inclined, as I suspect you will.

Once again, thank you for another wonderful year here! I hope this list inspires some fresh ideas for your kitchen.

My Favorite Recipes from Other Years

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

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  1. Love your lists! I’ve made most of these this year, but my personal favorites from here are the Sheet Pan Italian Chicken and Vegetables and the Brussel Sprouts Mac and Cheese. So excited about your upcoming cookbook!

  2. I need to try ALL of these!! I subscribe to your email updates but somehow did manage to miss these! Making these ASAP thanks for the new year inspo!! 

  3. Italian sausage butternut squash gnocchi became one of our FAVORITE dinners as soon as I made it. So gooooood!!! I actually have to resist making it every week! 

  4. Saw you on Google news. Wow! I’m hooked. Recipes look fabulous. Thanks for being out there. I’m a new fan.

  5. Awwwww erin!! 
    I know what you mean; that feeling of full expectation that something is going to be a hit and then NADAaaaa.

    It’s a metaphor for recipe making and life! Stuff happens and we have to take in stride.

    Wishing you a happy new year and full steam ahead!